Building: VMP 5 Floor: Ground Room: 0077
Brexit is commonly discussed as a symptom of re-nationalisation. In the case of citizenship, Brexit means withdrawal from the complex regime of EU citizenship, its set of rights and the guarantee of legal protection. For many citizens across different legal categories, Brexit risks the drawing of new boundaries that exclude them from exercising rights such as free movement. Brexit can thus be approached as the case 0 in the history of EU citizenship, which is no longer experienced as mass expansion but as mass reduction of rights. It is from this perspective that we wish to examine Brexit as a case of EU citizenship under stress. While EU citizenship has always been tied to citizenship of a national member state and for most people had little or no significance, Brexit reveals for the first time the complications that ensue when these rights are put at risk. Ironically, it is through Brexit that EU citizenship is no longer taken for granted or banal but becomes highly significant and contested.
A number of scholars have begun interrogating the legal implications of Brexit for EU citizenship (see Kostakopoulou, 2017; Shaw, 2017). However, the question is also how citizens are affected by the withdrawal of citizenship rights and how they express their concerns and start to mobilise politically. EU citizenship in relation to Brexit therefore also needs to be explored through its subjective dimension, that is, citizens’ contesting and enacting of it. This panel examines the more subjective experiences of citizens during Brexit – that is, the period of uncertainty following the EU referendum in June 2016. This analysis is addressed by the authors by drawing on original and up-to-date data about the different ways in which Brexit has impacted on affectedness and participation. The panel begins with a demographic study of EU-27 citizens in order to map EU heritage across generations in the UK and highlight the geographical and socio-economic diversity amongst EU-27 nationals affected by Brexit. The second paper explores online mobilisation in the context of Brexit and the way in which pro- and anti-Brexit groups defend and contest EU citizenship on social media. The final paper explores the impact of the referendum campaign for women’s participation and engagement in the Brexit debate. Altogether, this panel considers the way in which Brexit impacts on the more subjective, and participatory, dimensions of EU citizenship.